All posts tagged: Reading Challenge

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Fantasy Fiction)

The thing that makes fantasy fiction great is that it lets us imagine things we can’t or dare not imagine in our real life. Reading and writing fantasy make us find the parts of ourselves we didn’t even know were there. The mystery, magic and beauty of fantasy stretch out across the ages to touch people who never meet. It connects them on a level beyond words, and that’s what we consider important: finding, connecting and celebrating wonderful stories. Reading a fantasy is like being sucked into another universe. It can be intimidating, especially for adults, who often judge it to be less engaging, or simpler, than fiction that tries to represent everyday life. Fantasy Fiction is my escape from this reality. I love finding new books in the genre that take me to newer places. These are some of my favourites this year. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: Matt Haig’s latest book, The Midnight Library is about the power of stories. It asks: what happens when someone has read so many books that …

banner with 3 books

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Poetry)

I love adding poetry books to my list of yearly reading. It adds just a good variety and unique perspective sometimes.  I’ve been curious about this for a long time now, and when I started – yikes! – my reading comprehension was poor. I had to teach myself everything I knew about poetry. In college, I got a lot of valuable feedback and support which has played a big role in helping me improve my reading skills greatly. I would encourage you to make your reading lists diverse not only by authors but by genre as well.  Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics: I first read her work on Instagram and found her words powerfully descriptive. I love this collection. The poems are short, most only a line or two, but still convey everything they mean to. “Getting everything you ever wanted does not make you want less” The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Macksey: This is not really a book of poetry but I don’t know which list …

covers of biographies by Mariah Carey, Barack Obama, and Anthony Bourdain

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Biographies)

I fell in love with biographies after I read  Jay-Z’s Decoded. It’s one of the best ones I’ve read. Not only does he talk about his origins but also about rap music. I was one of those who didn’t understand it or like it but he completely changed my perception. Now at least I appreciate it, and realise good rap is poetic. He admits a lot of the new music just caters to what’s expected out of the genre instead of being true to it. You need to pay attention.   It made me understand the power of stories, and good writing. Unfortunately a lot of good stories get lost because of bad story-telling. Indian greats like Milkha Singh and Mary Kom have such a powerful story to tell but their writers have let them down. And the movies made on them have let them down further. This year I read some good biographies. The Meaning of Mariah Carey: I loved her music as a teen but never knew her struggle. She’s portrayed as such a …

mug with coffee and strawberry on opened books

Reading Challenge: 2019 (Non-Fiction)

The Power of true stories cannot be underestimated. Stories and facts that we have not considered come together to make non-fiction a staple in your reading lists. Here are some great ones I read this year. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly: The first thing that comes to mind is the amount of talent and knowledge that has been lost (and continues to be lost) because of barriers to education and employment. Such a criminal waste. That said, this book brings to light the contributions of women, especially African American women, in the space age. Well researched and told. A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa: A disturbing look into some of the lives of people living in North Korea. The words barely begin to describe the true horror of the starvation and oppression being faced by so many in secrecy. The ending of the book is quite heartbreaking and since there’s not much information available on the author online, we don’t know how the story ends up. Homo Deus By Yuval Noah Harari: The …

banner with Books: six of crows, Crooked Kingdom, and The Priory of the Orange Tree

Reading Challenge: 2019 (Fantasy Fiction)

I love the fantasy genre. I’ve loved the fantasy book series since I read the Lord of the Rings, Terry Pratchett, and then Harry Potter. A good fantasy book takes you to a whole new world that seems strange yet so familiar.  For a long time after that, I couldn’t find anything else in the genre that I could obsess about as much as I had been consumed by those three series of books. But I’m so glad for some brilliant fantasy book recommendations from other readers. Here are some great ones I read this year. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: I loved the concept and the telling of it. A very many twists and turns makes this an exciting duology.The main protagonist is a (white) male but is surrounded by POC and the women characters are strongly written. I would still love to see more women leaders in books though. Can’t be that hard to just reverse roles. Has me convinced to pick up more books from the Grishaverse series. …

book banner with The forest of enchantment and The Dragonfly Sea

Reading Challenge: 2019 (Fiction)

This year was a good year for books for me. I had started to diversify my reading list to books by authors in different countries, and even looked into some contemporary Indian authors. My goal was to read 40 books this year but I upgraded it to 50 by August. I had given up reading books by Indian authors after being disappointed countless times (looking at you Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi). In college I’d read the likes of Anita Desai and found the subject matter morose and the writing high-brow; meant for submission to book awards and discussed in literary societies, not something you’d want to cuddle up with. Then last year I discovered the books of Manto, Perumal Murugan, and Arundhati Roy’s new work of fiction. Not to mention Amitav Ghosh. This year my journey continued. It’s a good mix of popular and hidden gems, classics and contemporary.  Once again, I divide my list into three different posts of fiction, fantasy fiction, and non-fiction. Here goes the first list: Fiction. The Namesake by …

banner with 3 books: Sea Prayer, the sun and her flowers, and Fierce Fairytales

Reading Challenge: 2018 (Poetry)

I got hooked to poetry in college. I loved the flow of it, the subtlety and directness of it, and how it expressed so much with so little. The classics are always something I fall back on but I find contemporary poetry to be so much more hard-hitting. Here are some of my 2018 reads in Poetry. Nom Chomp Slurp: This is close to my heart because it’s written by my baby sister. It is an awesome book to encourage kids to eat fruits. The catchy rhyme and vibrant illustrations hold the attention of any kid. Good book for early readers to read on their own as well. Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini: A beautifully told heart-wrenching short narrative that takes you in the mind of a father about to get into a raft for refugees with his son. You can feel the pain, nostalgia, and hope. The book might be over in ten minutes but the thought of it stays with you for much longer. I’ve read it twice already. The Sun and Her …

Reading Challenge: 2018 (Non-Fiction)

I would refuse to read non-fiction books for a very long time. As a teenager, The 7 Habits was thrust in my face far too many times to put me off that section completely.  The first non-fiction I remember reading voluntarily was Men are From Mars and Women are from Venus by John Gray (on recommendation by Oprah). Although it was very cliched, in my young mind it made a lot of sense. Slowly I warmed up to biographies and other non-fiction books. They are an essential part of my reading list every year now. Here are some I read in 2018. Mothering a Muslim by Nazia Erum: All of us who have been in the majority and never had to face discrimination or worry about our children being ridiculed, excluded or worse should read this and examine how we are complicit or have actively caused such hurt. It is appalling that so many of our friends and children live in this constant fear. The Perils of Being Moderately Famous by Soha Ali Khan: I …

Reading Challenge: 2018 (Fiction)

Fiction has been the first type of books I enjoyed reading. Sweeping me into another world, full of possibilities. There are many types of fiction – suspense, science, historical, pulp, fantasy, to name a few – and I love them all. As I’ve grown older and read more of these books, I am amazed at how similar we all are in all corners of the world; wanting similar things, dreaming similar dreams.  These are just some of the books in this category I read in 2018 that stood out among the rest. For a full list, do visit my Goodreads profile.  The House of Clay and Water by Faiqa Mansab: Everything from the covers to the words in between them are beautifully expressed. It was a breeze to read through although there were times when you need to stop and face the harsh realities she talks about. The status of women, the unsafe children, the segregation, and the claim for the moral high ground. It is all relatable and is our thoughts put into words …

Pile of books next to a small wooden deer

Reading Challenge: 2018 (Prologue: On Diversity)

When you have read 50 books in a year, it’s safe to say not all of them can be (or need to be) reviewed. Even the ones I want to talk about are too many for a single post so I’ve divided them in three parts (and this rant). I used to read whatever book piqued my interest at the moment either because someone recommended it to me or the blurb was well written. Then there was a list of books that were considered well known and famous.  After reading some ‘classics’, I wanted to add contemporary books to my list as well so I would try and look (mainly on Goodreads lists) for interesting books released in that year. What I realised as I documented my reading lists, is that my list was very lop-sided – very Western, very White. I had not explored Indian authors since English Lit classes in college. My list barely had any authors from countries other than the UK or US. I found that to be a dreadful shortcoming; …